CPABC: Vancouver Island housing starts slowed in 2022, while major project activity picked up

Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA

DUNCAN, British Columbia, March 27, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to BC Check-Up: Invest, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on investment trends across the province, the number of housing units that began construction on Vancouver Island/Coast (excluding Greater Victoria) decreased by 12.5 per cent in 2022.

“While the number of housing units started across the region fell, it is important to note that decline is relative to the record number started in 2021,” said Woody Hayes, FCPA, FCA. “The nearly 3,000 units started in 2022 across the region remains above historical levels. Given our region’s quickly growing population, this growth in supply is critical.”

In 2022, 2,990 housing units began construction in the Vancouver Island/Coast region (excluding Greater Victoria), down from 3,417 in 2021 but above the average of 2,465 from 2016 to 2020. In 2022, 2,037 attached units and 953 detached units were started, down 8.1 per cent and 20.6 per cent from 2021, respectively.

Nanaimo had the most housing starts at 1,184 (up 9.2 per cent compared to 2021), followed by 559 in Duncan (up 58.4 per cent). The largest annual declines were in Courtney (402 started, down 45.7 per cent) and Parksville (203 started, down 50.2 per cent).

“While the situation really varied by municipality, the slowdown does pose a concern for the region’s housing affordability challenges. Simply put, we need policies which focus on expediting housing investment in the region,” continued Hayes. “One positive investment trend was that several major projects began construction in the region, though a large proportion remain in the proposal stage.”

The total value of major projects, those worth over $15 million, across Vancouver Island (excl. Greater Victoria) was $17.0 billion in Q3 2022, up from $16.8 in Q3 2021.

Of all the projects, 18 were under construction in Q3 2022, with a value of $1.1 billion, up from $924 million in Q3 2021. This increase was due to some projects starting construction over that period, including the Cowichan Secondary School Replacement ($86 million), Comox-Puntledge Flow Control Project ($46 million), and Ocean View Seniors Facility ($37 million).

Most projects were in the proposal stage, with 28 projects forecast to have a capital cost of $11.3 billion. A new proposal, the Vancouver Island Student Housing project ($88 million), was officially put forward in Q3 2022. The region’s largest project, the Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project ($3.3 billion), continued to be on hold.

“While the region has relatively few major projects underway, several hundred million worth of projects began construction over the past year,” concluded Hayes. “Particularly with high interest rates now weighing new investment, this major project activity is important to support jobs, boost housing supply, improve services, and set our region up to be more productive. Going forward, our region should actively encourage more of these investments to help improve our economic and affordability outlook.”

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The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 39,000 CPA members and 6,000 CPA students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.


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